More than 800 people turned out as the County of Hawaii hosted its first annual World Peace Festival at Coconut Island or Moku Ola, which means “island of life.” The multicultural festival had been sponsored by the International Committee of Artists for Peace.
In his welcoming remarks, County of Hawaii Mayor Billy Kenoi talked about the celebration of cultures and people from across the Pacific and the world, celebration of languages, arts, music, and sharing of our talents, food and experiences. The spirit of Aloha, the universal language of love, he said, means “to honor and revere our elders; to love, nurture and protect our children; and to respect the harmony of our families, thus creating healthy a community and island.” The mayor also noted that ICAP’s founder, Dr. Daisaku Ikeda, began his international travels for peace 50 years ago, on October 2, 1960, in Hawaii. Therefore, he said, to honor Dr. Ikeda’s efforts to promote global respect for all and the values of compassion, dignity, honesty and sincerity, he had selected the significant date of October 2 for this year’s festival, an event to be held for many years to come.
Mayor Kenoi then introduced a traditional Hawaiian prayer and song to initiate the festivities.
Guest speaker Dr. Michael Nobel, noted peace activist and great-grandnephew of Alfred Nobel, founder of the Nobel Prize, soon took the podium. He spoke on the topic of conflict resolution, stating that across Hawaii, the rich Aloha spirit was a vital ingredient in solidifying the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood. Dr. Nobel also referenced the ICAP founder, citing Dr. Ikeda’s efforts to resolve differences through dialogue and negotiation over the last fifty years. He also explained that the many institutions Dr. Ikeda established, which includes ICAP, have resulted in a multitude of programs devoted to cultural and educational exchange, and aimed at strengthening trust and mutual understanding among ordinary citizens and among students around the world.
The Culture Festival programs included:
- Darlene Ahuna, No Hoku hanohano Award-winning vocalist
- World-renowned Indian sitar player, Nayan Ghosh
- University of Hawaii, Hilo’s Tupulaga o Samoa mo a Teao
- Micronesians United Big Island
- Hui Okinawa Kobudo Raiko
- El Leo – The Jarican Express
- SGI-USA Youth Hip Hop Crew
- Ernie Cruz Sr. Country Western Band
Britaney Uyeda, who performed a hip-hop dance, said that the event’s success stemmed from a unified vision for a peaceful world. “It’s very encouraging,” she said, “to see so many people come out to support world peace.”
Mayor Kenoi likewise expressed his belief that those who attended this important event would come to be profoundly affected by its message. “It will spread like the ripples from a stone cast in the water, until peace and harmony, healthy families and hope for a better future for children become the most cherished values throughout the world.”